We have gathered advice from actual interviewees to help MIT / Sloan MBA hopefuls prepare. Over the years, hundreds of MBA applicants have shared their interview experiences. For today’s post, we’ve culled through this to pull out top tips from those who experienced MIT / Sloan’s Behavioral Event-based Interviews (BEI) first hand.
For anyone unfamiliar with the BEI, it’s a style of interview that centers on a description of one or more specific situations or events as related by the applicant. The interviewer will ask a number of probing questions about the candidate’s decisions and actions in the course of the event described. Adcom members conduct the interviews and will be highly familiar with your application—even having it handy on a tablet during your interview. Want to learn more? Check out Clear Admit’s Interview Guide for MIT / Sloan.
See below for what past candidates learned from their Sloan interview experiences. You can thank us—and them—by paying it forward and submitting reports of your own after you interview.
A Round 2 candidate established the overall structure of the interview:
“Interviewer had a set of questions that focused on past accomplishments and challenges; there was none of the standard ‘walk me through your résumé’ type prompt.”
Another applicant offered the following advice for how to prepare:
“The key for this interview is to have good, meaningful anecdotes. Not something you threw together, but real stories with depth that you know well enough to allow you to provide serious background.”
A thoughtful Round 1 interviewee offered these observations:
“The ‘why MIT’ question is clearly extremely important to them, so is showing you’ve done your homework. The more I have thought about the interview since, the more I think that she was very familiar with my application and every question she asked was prepared beforehand and meant to draw out a specific experience that I had written about in my application, even including the more conversational portions of the interview. It was very different from interviewing with a 2nd-year student, and [the interviewer] is clearly very experienced conducting these types of interviews in a way that lets you show your best attributes.”
To show that not all interviews will be the same, a candidate shared the following:
“The experience was very pleasant, not as structured as I anticipated–it was a lot more like a conversation rather than just questions & answers. We started with ~10 minutes on the company I work for and exactly what I do, as well as why MBA.” The interviewer then followed up with a couple of behavioral questions, and plenty of follow-up questions to each.
Go with the Flow
Be prepared to be interrupted, advised a prior Round 2 candidate:
“While I was telling stories, I would often get stopped and asked a very probing question about how I reacted/felt about a certain thing.”
An accepted Round 1 applicant also noted:
“The interview was not blind—the interviewer will have a good idea of who you are and will begin to probe at areas where they want more info or detail. Just be yourself and be ready to bring new information to the table—their admissions process is heavily dependent on data and proof points of past achievements. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to introduce new proof points in the interview.”
Another interviewee emphasized other important questions—namely, yours:
“The last one re: questions for the interviewer is surprisingly important at MIT Sloan; they want you to ask insightful, unique, and thought-provoking questions of them. Don’t ask anything too general or something that you could find with a bit of digging online.”
We Are All Made of STARs
“We were told that interviews would last 30-45 minutes, and that they are behavioral event-based interviews (BEI), which are essentially deep-dives on behavioral questions and past actions. My interviewer was a staff member of the Admissions Committee. We spent the first few minutes making small talk about my visit and then quickly got in to it.”
The behavioral nature of the MIT / Sloan interviews can be challenging, but a couple of applicants shared their approach:
“I used the STAR format (situation, task, action, response) for all my questions and used a template rather than a script.”
“The key is to prepare stories that cover most subjects and to deliver your answers in a structured way (the STAR method is really helpful).”
Hindsight Is 20/20
This candidate, who ultimately met with success after a Skype interview in Round 1, acknowledged that even more practice might have helped:
“Unlike my other interview experiences, the questions did not focus on my aspirations and goals. Instead, this interview focused on how I felt, what I thought, and how I reacted to several situations—where I managed someone, when I felt uncomfortable cross-culturally, and a time I instituted organizational change. If I were to do it over again, I would practice discussing my experiences and the colorful descriptions of them.”
Meanwhile, a rejected Round 1 candidate had this to share about the interview experience:
“I was ultimately dinged. I think this had to do with lack of fit with the school, which probably came out during the interview, as I (unwisely) didn’t prepare much to adjust my responses/story to fit with MIT’s culture.”
A Small Note on Logistics
While it’s a best practice to arrive 15 minutes early, this Sloan candidate advised adding even more lead time:
“It was fairly difficult to find the building that admissions is in, so I would definitely recommend getting there early and leaving yourself a good buffer.”
Are you preparing for your Sloan interview? Don’t forget to check out our Interview Guides for a deeper dive into each school’s process! Also, share your interview experience in our Interview Archive to help your fellow peers.